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Slovakia: Parliament Rejects Criminal Code Amendment

By Miroslav Neovesky

Bratislava, 12 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Slovakia's Parliament has rejected a controversial amendment to the criminal code, which its opponents said limited civil and human rights. The Parliament, dominated by Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's governing coalition, had twice previously approved the amendment -- and President Michal Kovac rejected it and returned it to Parliament each time.

The amendment provided for punishment for actions it listed as intended to undermine constitutional order and for spreading abroad false information about Slovakia.

Opposition leaders, who say the amendment was vague and could be open to abuse by authorities, cheered yesterday's voting result. The amendment, also called a "law on the protection of the republic," was said by opponents to target the opposition and Slovakia's large ethnic Hungarian population.

One opposition group issued a statement saying the vote was proof that a resolute civic and political opposition to un-democratic legislation can end up in victory.

President Kovac had said the proposed amendment violated the Constitution and might cast doubts on Slovakia's attempts to join the European Union and NATO.